In this article KFFL breaks down the fantasy football sleepers of the week. We will avoid marquee names because players of that caliber are rarely benched, regardless of their matchup. Instead, we will focus on the players that make your fantasy lineup decisions stressful each week. Read on to learn which midrange to low-end players you wouldn't necessarily consider that you need to get into your lineup.
Note: All statistics are from 2011 Week 1 through Week 16, unless otherwise stated.
Fantasy football sleepers: Defensive teams
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Urlacher hoping to test Luck
Fantasy value: High-end No. 1
- Seattle's division jacked up their DT's fantasy value heading into 2012. Arizona's offensive is scrambling as camp closes out. The Redbirds are limping into Week 1 thanks to indecision on and lack of talent at QB; RB health concerns; and an O-line shake-up thanks to Levi J. Brown's season-ending triceps injury.
- The Seahawks were one of the more underappreciated fantasy units last year, too, averaging 2.07 sacks, 1.40 interceptions and 0.53 fumble recoveries per game last season.
- In 2011, Arizona produced a minus-13 takeaway-giveaway differential (19 takes, 32 gives total) and looks poised to help opposing defenses in the same way this year, especially early on.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Fantasy value: High-end No. 1
- Buffalo's pass rush got a jolt with the signings of defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson as they move to Dave Wannstedt's 4-3 setup, which'll maximize Williams' power. Though last year they only registered 1.73 sacks per contest, they were solid at pressuring the QB; they're primed to take a leap in fantasy production.
- Much like the Arizona Cardinals, the Jets have questions with their offense coming out of the preseason. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are limiting the upside of the aerial game, and they're not getting much ground push yet out of purported bell cow Shonn Greene. A dismal preseason showing by the entire offense doesn't inspire much hope for a hot start. Trading away Wayne Hunter for Jason Smith isn't a quick fix at right tackle, and the offensive line, despite slight improvements lately, remains a concern.
Chicago Bears vs. Indianapolis Colts
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 1
- This will be the first week Andrew Luck takes Bruce Arians' offense into regular-season play. Luck has looked very much like a future stud in the preseason, but such a small sample size doesn't justify thinking he'll excel out of the gate playing four quarters per contest.
- Chicago's experienced group, which, for what it's worth, put a hurting on Robert Griffin III a few weeks ago, will likely be a tough one for the No. 1 pick to figure out in his first "it counts" game. In standard scoring leagues, the Bears' D averaged 8.1 points per game, including 2.07 sacks, 1.13 picks and 0.73 fumble wrangles.
- If Brian Urlacher (knee) plays, it'll be even tougher for Luck to find the midrange safety valves that rookie slingers rely on. Outside of an aging Reggie Wayne, they really don't have a deep threat for this Tampa 2 offshoot to worry about.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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